A/N: Over a year ago, I made a random post on tumblr about how much I needed an I Dream Of Jeannie AU for Oliver and Felicity. Four months ago, I started writing one through a series of drabbles on my tumblr. It was supposed to be funny and short and sweet. It has since turned into a long, angst-filled monster that's finally getting posted after four months.
A/N 2: The drabbles that are being consolidated into this fic are all still posted at my tumblr, so if almost 10,000 words of this is not enough for you, you can head to andyouweremine-dot-tumblr-dot-com. Clicking on the 'fanfic tags' link (and then the link for The I Dream Of Felicity AU) is the easiest way to find all of the drabbles I've posted there.
Oliver Queen finds the dark purple bottle on Lian Yu's beach. He digs it out of wet sand and washes it off in the ocean water before pulling the out the stopper and releasing a burst of purple smoke that quickly solidifies into a blonde girl in a belly dancer outfit.
At first he thinks he's hallucinating. It's about damn time, really. By his surely inaccurate calculations, he's been stranded alone on this island for over four years. Four years of limited human contact—there were people, but they were threats or targets and they provided no escape from this hell—was bound to leave his sanity unraveling at the edges.
Oliver doesn't have an abundance of time to contemplate his slow descent into madness, because the hallucination has thrown herself into his arms and pressed her lips to his and—
Hallucinations aren't this solid, aren't this real, are they?
He can feel the softness of her skin beneath the calluses on his hands as he instinctively grabs onto her waist. He can taste saltwater on her tongue and smell the sweet scent of her perfume. The press of her body against his is tantalizing. One of her hands rakes through the long tresses of his hair while the other holds fast to the tattered material of his shirt.
And Oliver's lost.
He opens his mouth to her, pulls her closer, kisses her deeper. She's like breathing fresh air after an eternity of drowning, and if this is some kind of dream, he doesn't ever want to wake up.
Except then she's pulling away, stepping back, and he looks down at the most beautiful woman he's every seen. Bright pink lips, golden curls, kind eyes.
"Wow," he breathes.
"Hi," she says, and he can't help but notice the way she's panting, the dazed expression on her face. She's broken the kiss, but she hasn't stepped out of his arms.
"Where did you—" Oliver stops, glances at the bottle floating in the ocean at the girl's feet. "I've got to be—"
He chuckles, suddenly awkward. She's still very much pressed up against him, and he's still thrown from that kiss.
"You've got to be what?" she asks.
"Dreaming," he says. "I've got to be dreaming. You can't be real."
Confusion fills her features. "Why not?"
"Because—" He swallows, somehow nervous. "I'm alone here."
She smiles. "You're not dreaming. You rescued me."
Letting one of her arms fall from around Oliver's neck, the girl reaches down to retrieve the bottle. "I've been in here for the past...well, it must be about forty or fifty years by now."
"You've been trapped...in there?"
"Waiting for you, Master."
She looks, of all things, offended by his clear confusion. "Genie—" she points to herself, then to him— "Master."
Oliver scrambles away from her, and she looks even more hurt. "Wait—wait, what?"
"I'm your genie," she says, slowly, as if he's an idiot.
"No," he says. "You're not. You're...I don't know what you are but what you're not is a genie."
The girl crosses her arms, and narrows her eyes at him. "I can prove it to you."
"I can give you anything you want. Wish for something."
"Wish for something," Oliver says. "Anything?
"Anything," she repeats.
That's easy. There's only one thing he wants. "I want to go home."
The girl blinks. "Done."
"Done?" Oliver asks, "You haven't done..."
He lets his sentence fade away.
There's a ship on the horizon that wasn't there a second ago.
Felicity wakes up from her nap when her bottle—which has been lying on its side for the better part of a half-century—suddenly tilts upright. She falls forward hard onto one of the benches situated around the circumference, and an avalanche of pillows piles on top of her. Tossing them aside, Felicity makes her way to the very center of the room and glances up the bottle's neck. The cork is still in place, but the magical lanterns that provide her little room with light sway as the bottle rocks back and forth.
Then the room tips again, and Felicity loses her balance with a yelp. There's not much for her to hold onto besides the cushioned benches around the room's perimeter. She's just managed to right herself when the thing tips again, and this time the room slowly fills with smoke as the bottle's stopper is removed.
Felicity glances down at her wrists to see thick silver manacles forming there. They posess no clasp and no chain, but extend a good four inches down her arm.
She has a new Master. Her skin feels electrified with the pleasure of it, battling with the dread that seeps into her bones. She forces herself to take slow breathes, in through her nose, out through her mouth. This one won't be like the last one. This one will be different. This one she'll get the upper hand on.
This one she'll wrap around her finger from the get-go.
A rush of excitement fills her as the smoke draws her up and up, through the neck of the bottle and out into the world beyond. She's standing on a beach, a few feet into the water, and the sound and smell of the ocean is heavenly.
She hasn't breathed fresh air in a long time.
She only takes a second to appreciate it, because her Master is standing in front of her, and she very desperately needs him—to love her, to be kind to her, to not hurt her.
So she kisses him.
His lips are chapped, and his beard is rough against her mouth. When his hands eventually land on the bare skin of her waist she can feel the calluses on the pads of his fingers.
Pushing herself up on her toes, she grabs a fistful of his shirt in order to keep her balance as she runs her fingers through his hair. She feels it the instant he gives himself over to her, to wanting her. He takes control of the kiss and she lets him, allowing him to wrap his arms more fully around her.
It's overwhelming and exactly the response she was waiting for. Felicity pulls back. It's not a retreat, just a pause.
"Wow," he says softly.
She looks up at him, dizzy with fresh air and his kiss and the sight of him.
"Hi," she says. His arms are still around her, and for all that she doesn't know this man at all—not even his name, only that she's his—the touch, the contact, is a potent thing after almost fifty years of solitude. She thinks she could cry just from relief at seeing another person again.
"Where did you—" He stops, glances at the bottle floating in the ocean at Felicity's feet. "I've got to be—"
He chuckles awkwardly, but it's a lovely sound.
"You've got to be what?" she asks.
"Dreaming," he says. "I've got to be dreaming. You can't be real."
Well, that's new. "Why not?"
"Because. I'm alone here."
He has no concept of what alone is, Felicity thinks, but instead she says, "You're not dreaming. You rescued me."
She picks up her bottle to show him. "I've been in here for the past...well, it must be about forty or fifty years by now."
"You've been trapped...in there?"
"Waiting for you, Master." The last word still feels like acid on her tongue, but she has to say it.
"Genie—" she points to herself, then to him— "Master."
"Wait—wait, what?" He scrambles away from her, and she panics. This is not going well.
"I'm your genie," she says, slowly, trying to stamp down the terror rising inside her. In her experience, Masters who didn't believe Genies exist have been the worst ones.
"No," he says. "You're not. You're...I don't know what you are, but what you're not is a genie."
The cursed magic inside her pulses. It's itching to get out, itching for him to stake a claim on her. Wanting, needing, craving. So Felicity says, "I can prove it to you."
"I can give you anything you want. Wish for something."
"Wish for something," he says, dumbstruck. "Anything?
"Anything," she confirms.
"I want to go home."
That was the last thing she expected, but the magic can easily make that happen. She blinks. "Done."
"Done?" he asks. "You haven't done..."
He's too busy staring at the ship she's summoned to notice the way her face contorts from the sudden pain of the shackles around her wrists contracting.
"You don't have to call me 'Master'," Oliver tells her for what must be the tenth time since she tumbled out of a dark purple bottle in a haze of similarly colored smoke. "Really, Felicity. I'll make it an order if I have to."
They're back in Starling City, in his old bedroom, and she's sitting on his dresser, legs crossed, curly blonde ponytail brushing against the back of her neck. The bedlah she's wearing today is purple and silver, giving Oliver a good view of her stomach and the tops of her breasts. He knows she's caught him looking, and he knows it bothers her, so he tries to keep his gaze on her neck or shoulders. Except those are beautiful too; every inch of her is.
"It doesn't work like that," she says. "It's not that I don't want to do it. I can't do it, Master. It's against the code. I am physically unable to address you in such a way as long as I'm tethered to this," she gestures to her bottle, sitting innocently on his dresser.
"There's got to be a loophole though, right?"
Felicity shrugs. "I don't know. No one else ever cared to find out."
Oliver's hands still while in the process of tying his tie. "I'm sorry," he says, and he means it.
She blinks quickly, and all on its own, his tie finishes tying itself and straightens itself out.
"Thanks," Oliver says, going over to grab his jacket from a nearby chair.
He adjusting his collar in the mirror when he glances up and catches her staring at him with a strange expression on her face. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she says, sliding off the dresser and walking towards him—and damn if the sway of her hips isn't sinful Oliver doesn't know what is. "It's just that no one's ever thanked me before either."
"Felicity," he says, resting his hands on her shoulders—her bare shoulders and her soft skin. "I am not good at this whole having-a-genie thing, but I know that I'm not going to treat you like you're a vending machine for wishes, okay."
She shakes her head. "That's not going to last. It always starts like this. You're sweet and kind and then suddenly you figure out just what kind of power I have beneath my fingertips. Then you want everything."
"Look," he says, "You were my miracle, Felicity. You brought me back here, back home, back to a normal life. I asked for the impossible, and somehow you gave it to me. Let me give you that too. We're going to figure out how to get out of this curse, whatever it takes, because I owe you a life debt. Mine for yours. You gave me back my life. Let me figure out how to give you back yours."
"I don't even know how to hope for that anymore, Oliver."
He smiles, "Well, you should."
"Because you just called me Oliver."
A beautiful smile blooms on her face. "I did, didn't I?"
"Yes," he says, as she winds her arms around his neck and peers up at him with bright eyes. "You did."
Felicity is very accustomed to being a secret. There are many reasons her Masters chose to conceal her from the world outside her bottle or their bedchambers. Most of the time it was so that she couldn't be stolen from them, though the majority liked to disguise this possessiveness by telling her it was for her own safety.
"You could be taken by someone who doesn't appreciate or love you the way I do," they would say, pressing kisses to her forehead. "I don't want to lose you."
After one got violently angry with her for stepping outside, Felicity forced herself to become used to staying away from people who weren't her Master. She blinked herself invisible or back into her bottle when people entered her Master's quarters.
There were one or two Masters who would take her out with them, dress her up nice and pretty and try to ply her with promises of a brand new life. They pledged love and devotion. They promised never to hurt her. They professed deep gratitude. They would dress her in pretty clothes and plant greedy kisses on her lips.
And always, because it was a thing they wanted, Felicity could do nothing but comply.
"Just give me this," they would say to her, "one day I will wish you free."
That day never came. The magic was too deep and too powerful. The more they wished, the more they wanted. The more they wanted, the more they got. The magic binding her to them grew more and more powerful. The more and more of herself she lost, hidden away in a bottle, while she was kept only for what she could give.
The only interaction she usually had was with her Master, and Felicity often found that she came to love and hate them in equal measure. (Although, there were some she hated much, much more than she loved.)
So when Oliver takes her hand the second morning after his return home and says, "Come down to breakfast with me," she's stunned into speechlessness.
"Felicity?" he asks when she doesn't respond.
"You want me to...come down to breakfast?" she asks. "With your family?"
"They have to meet you sometime," he answers. "And you can't stay up here forever."
Nervously, she shifts from foot to foot, hoping he won't actually order her to do this. "Why not?"
"Because there is a life outside of this room and outside of your bottle, and both of us get to live it." He's looking at her intently, and she thinks her heart is going to burst from her chest with how fast it's beating.
"I'm not supposed to have a life outside of you. For me, there is no life outside of you. There can't be."
"There should be," Oliver says.
As if he understands he's unsettling her, Oliver says, "I'm not going to order you to do this."
But she can feel his want all the same. It pulls at her, unrelenting, unyielding. He wants, and every fiber of her being needs to give him what he wants. At the same time, it's very different from the sensation she's used to from a Master. He wants something for himself, yes, but he also wants something for her.
No one ever wants something for her, only from her.
So Felicity relents. "What are you going to tell them?"
"That you're a friend I met at Tommy's party last night. We made plans to hang out today."
Helpless to stop the blush that spreads across her cheeks at what his family will assume he means by 'friend', Felicity tries to conceal just how panicked that thought makes her.
"Hey," he says quickly, the hand not holding hers moving to cup her cheek. "They'll like you, I promise."
That's the last thing she's worried about.
"Can you blink yourself into something a little more modern?" Oliver asks, playfully tugging on the short silver jacket she wears over her purple top.
"Whatever you want." He pauses for a second, then adds, "Just so long as it's from this decade."
She blinks up a bright blue dress and a pair of silver sandals, and then changes her hairstyle from a high ponytail to loose waves around her shoulders. A pair of glasses and dangly earrings are the finishing touch. "How's this?"
It takes Oliver a second to register the change, but after his eyes have swept over her body, he tells her, "Perfect."
His approval is a warm balm, as comforting as the feel of his hand in hers. He gives her a gentle tug, and even as Felicity follows Oliver down the stairs and into the dining room, he never lets go of her hand.
And her wants might be infinitely and hopelessly tangled with his wants, but she knows that this tiny thing—his hand in her hand—is something she wants for reasons beyond her purpose of fulfilling Oliver's desires. She wants this reassurance that he's with her, because the world outside of her bottle is foreign and terrifying.
The couple seated at the end of the table both look up when Oliver and Felicity enter.
"Good morning," the woman says, eyeing Felicity with clear curiosity.
"Mom," Oliver says, "This is Felicity. She's my friend. Felicity, this is my mother, Moira Queen, and my step-father, Walter Steele."
Felicity knows this. Oliver told her all about his mother and step-father a few nights ago. It's a new thing to be able to put faces to the names though.
"How did you two meet?" Moira says as Oliver pulls out Felicity's chair for her.
His movements are stilted, unsure things. All the trained courtesy is still there, but Felicity sees the worn edges that have come from its disuse. There aren't many dinner tables and chairs on a deserted island. She follows Oliver's lead by removing the cloth folded on the plate and spreading it across her lap. The entire time she feels Moira's eyes on her.
"She came to Tommy's welcome home bash last night," Oliver says, "I guess you could say we hit it off."
Moira appears unconvinced.
Oliver reaches for Felicity's hand under the table. "We made plans to spend some time together today."
"Oh," Moira says, without taking her eyes off of Felicity. "How nice."
As if oblivious to the way his wife is coolly scrutinizing Felicity, Walter makes a comment about an article he's reading in the paper. It's successful in distracting Moira for a few moments while a woman places a plate full of food in front of Oliver and another in front of Felicity.
Casually, Oliver leans over so his mouth is right next to Felicity's ear. "I asked Raisa to just make you what she usually makes me. I hope that's okay."
Felicity nods, relieved that she doesn't have to make any decisions about what to eat. Besides, the food tastes amazing.
As a genie, Felicity doesn't really need to eat. She's a supernatural creature. Food isn't a necessity for her life to continue. She knows. Several Masters withheld food from her out of spite until they realized that altered nothing until they started wishing hunger pains on her. That made it unbearable. Felicity has gone somewhere over a hundred years without actual physical food, and she could go a hundred more.
Being able to go without doesn't mean she hasn't missed the taste and feel of food in her mouth and the way it settles in her belly. She forgot how sweet fruit is, how lovely and crisp it is to bite into.
Next to her, Oliver picks at his food, and Felicity understands why. It's too much after years of not nearly enough. He does manage to eat a small bowl of fruit and a few spoonfuls of the eggs and breakfast potatoes on his plate.
Walter has assisted them once again by drawing Moira into a conversation, and Felicity's just starting to think that this whole thing is going rather well when Oliver's sister enters the dining room. Felicity recognizes her instantly from several of the framed photographs in Oliver's room.
"Oh my god, Oliver," she says. "Seriously? I know women were throwing themselves all over you at that party last night, but I didn't think you would actually bring one home—"
Felicity reaches for her glass of water, hoping to disguise the jealousy flaring in her chest. The thought of other women throwing themselves at her Master makes her see red.
"Thea," Moira says a little sharply. "We have a guest. This is Oliver's friend Felicity...I'm sorry, I don't believe I caught your last name, dear?"
Even if Felicity had the presence of mind to speak, she couldn't answer. She doesn't have a last name. She thinks she did once, when she was a human, but that's long been lost to her. She's just Felicity now.
Oliver saves her. "Smoak. Pronounced like smoke from a fire, but it's spelled differently."
Felicity wonders where on earth he came up with that, but since he saved her with it, she's not going to complain.
Thea holds out her hand. "Well, Felicity Smoak. I'm Thea Queen, Oliver's sister."
"I know. I mean—" Nervously, Felicity glances at Oliver. "Oliver's mentioned you."
Giving her brother a skeptical look, Thea pulls out a chair and practically falls into it. "I'm sure that was a fascinating conversation given how much of a screw-up he thinks I am."
Between the piercing stabs of jealous possessiveness in Felicity's chest and the fury building underneath the surface of it, she's not sure how much longer she can stay in this room without giving something away.
Tuned in to her distress, Oliver stands up and excuses them both, taking Felicity's hand and pulling her out of the room and down the hall. When they're a safe distance away, he catches her blushing face in both of his hands and looks down at her worriedly.
"Felicity, what's wrong?"
She doesn't know how to explain this part of the Genie curse. She doesn't know how to tell him that there's so much more to this arrangement that he understands. He thinks he knows. He thinks he understands what she is and what she is to him, but he doesn't have a clue.
He doesn't know that jealous rage over her Masters has eaten her up alive, turned her into something bitter and ugly. It fades over time, like most Genie magic, but it is horrible while it's happening.
And Felicity knows that it's the curse. There's no reason she should care about beautiful women flirting with Oliver, especially since she knows that he's not interested. The only person his heart is interested in right now is Laurel.
That thought is a particularly bad one to have right in that moment. Another burst of pain shoots through her body at the thought of Oliver's Laurel. Oliver is forced to quickly catch her in his arms before she looses her balance. The pain is overwhelming and white-hot in its intensity.
"Felicity," he says again, "Tell me what's wrong."
It's not an order. It doesn't sink into her bones or make her body go ridged with desire to obey. Still he wants.
What does he want? It's twisted up and mixed with other things. Thea to be okay. Moira to be happy. This place to feel like home again. For Tommy's understanding. For Laurel's forgiveness. For Felicity—
He wants Felicity to be okay.
And the throbbing ache inside her slowly recedes as that final thought consumes her: Her Master does not want her in pain.
"Thank you," she breathes, utterly astonished. That has never happened before. Never before has a Master's desire overridden one of the curse's strictures. Not in all of Felicity's six hundred years as a Genie. Never before has a Master's desire for her well-being been that strong.
"Thank you for what?" Oliver asks. He hasn't yet her go, and part of her doesn't want him to ever let her go.
"For caring," she answers. "For wanting so much for me to be okay."
"Of course I want you to be okay," he says, pressing a kiss to her forehead. Her heart leaps at the gesture. "I don't like seeing you in pain."
And a steady, comforting pulse of magic tells Felicity that he really, truly doesn't.
The bitter pain of six hundred years of experience tells her that it's still possible someday down the line he very much will.
To Oliver's great amusement, Felicity spends the entire limo ride staring out the window at everything. She spent most of the trip from Lian Yu back to Starling City inside of her bottle, and this is the first time she's stepped out of the Queen Mansion.
"The buildings have gotten so big," she whispers, eyes bright with wonder.
"Welcome to Starling City," Oliver says quietly, reaching for her hand. "One of these days we'll take my motorcycle out and drive through the city at night. It's gorgeous."
He sees her face light up, and her excitement makes him damn near giddy. "Would you like that, Felicity?"
She nods, lips pressed together to hold back her smile.
"Great," he says, feeling just a little bit like the old Oliver, who knew how to make the pretty girls smile with delight and go weak at the knees.
In hindsight, maybe most of that was just because of the number of digits after the dollar sign in his family's bank accounts.
He knows he's staring, but it doesn't seem to bother her. He's never really seen her out of her genie outfit before this morning. There's something about her wearing normal clothes that grounds her into reality. Sure, she used magic to create them out of thin air, but the fact that she's wearing them makes her all the more real.
"So," Felicity says, "Where are you taking me?"
"It's a surprise," he says. "You'll see."
She grins at him before she turns back to the window, captivated. He understands her wonder, because he's felt it on a smaller scale since his return. His five years gone cannot compare to her fifty, but it's comparable all the same. They were both isolated, disconnected, friendless, helpless and hopeless.
And they both survived it.
"Oliver," Felicity says when they've arrived at their destination, "I've been in decadent palaces and beautiful castles, but I have to say, this is by far the ugliest, most decrepit place a Master has ever taken me."
Oliver can't help it. He bursts out laughing.
She pouts. "Well, I'm glad you find it amusing."
"This place belongs to my father's company. I'm going to fix it up, Felicity," Oliver says, taking her by the hand and pulling her farther inside the building. "Turn it into a night club."
"This place? I could blink you up a thousand nightclubs nicer than this without you ever having to lift a finger."
"I know," he says, "But that's not the point. I want…"
He lets the sentence trail off, but she finishes, "Something that's yours."
"Yeah," he says, voice suddenly thick with emotion because she's exactly right. "Something that's mine."
Felicity moves to the center of the room, kicking at the papers littering the floor. "Describe it to me. What do you see when you look at this place?"
And he does. He details the lighting, the bar, the deejay, the atmosphere, and as he talks, Felicity does more than listen.
She transforms the room. He mentions the floor and suddenly the surface they're standing on is tiled and spotless; he talks about the bar and suddenly it's there, fully stocked; he describes the lights and the dance floor and suddenly the light in the room isn't streaking in from the open door, but glowing green-blue from the electric lights through the room.
He changes things. Things in his head that he thought would be good, but really weren't. He asks her to alter a few things that she didn't understand quite right.
At some point, though Oliver isn't quite sure when, with a flick of her wrist, Felicity creates a blanket to spread across the floor and a pile of pillows on top of it. He pauses halfway through his sentence when he sees her stretched out on the floor, one knee bent in front of her, a pillow cradled in her arms as she listens to him. Somehow the sight is breathtaking.
Kneeling in front of her, Oliver takes her hands in his. It's very hard to resist the urge to draw one of them up to his mouth so he can kiss her knuckles.
"So, what about you, Felicity?" he asks.
She gives him a quizzical look. "What about me?"
"Don't you want something that's yours?"
"I don't get anything that's mine," she says, turning away from him.
He reaches for her impulsively, and she goes still at his touch. "There's got to be…there's got to be something, Felicity. Something you want."
She shakes her head.
"Okay," he says gently, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Then we'll just find you something. There's a huge world out there. We'll make something that's yours."
"Oliver," she says sadly, and he knows that tone. It's the one she used when she tried to explain to him why she couldn't use his name.
She can use his name now, and if that's not a sign that this curse she keeps talking about can be broken, Oliver doesn't know what is. He knows she would tell him it's just a loophole, but that still means something. Find the right loophole, and the entire system can unravel. Oliver knows.
For a long moment, Felicity's quiet. Then, she turns back to him and meekly says, "What will you call it?"
"Verdant," Oliver answers, easily accepting her change of subject.
Felicity repeats the word a few times, then shrugs. "Whatever you say, Master."
"Oliver," he corrects gently, though he thinks the 'slip' was done on purpose. Standing up, he reaches down to offer her a hand.
"Right," she says, letting him help her to her feet. "Force of habit."
He pulls just a little too hard, or she wasn't truly expecting him to provide her any actual assistance, and she loses her balance as she stands, pitching forward into his arms.
He catches her easily, his arms loose around her waist as he steadies her. One of her hands grabs onto his shoulder.
"Look," she says, "I know you're trying to be helpful, Oliver, but it's futile. I don't get a life. I get a bottle and a Master, and—if I'm lucky—a few years without pain. But that's it. That's all I get to hope for."
There's a strange, heavy ache in Oliver's chest that he can't quite define. Before he can second-guess or stop himself, he cups her face with his hand. Immediately, she turns into the touch, closing her eyes and letting out a soft, contented hum.
Slowly, Oliver dips his head, using the hand already on her cheek to tilt her head up slightly. He pauses just a few inches away from her mouth, waiting for something.
Waiting, he realizes after a second, for Felicity to kiss him.
But she doesn't.
Instead, the door at the far end of the room swings open, and both Felicity and Oliver turn at the sound. As the moment breaks, Oliver watches all the magic Felicity's put into the building fade away. It dissolves back into the state of disrepair it was in before.
As Felicity backs out of his arms, Oliver feels just a little like the building. Living in a moment that didn't exist because it was just an illusion. It wasn't real.
Not yet, at least.
Tommy Merlyn has walked in on Oliver Queen doing some pretty questionable things over their fifteen plus years of friendship. Seeing him with his arms wrapped around a gorgeous woman hardly makes the top ten list.
Still, there's something about the moment that feels different from the usual passionate kisses he's interrupted. They're both still, for one thing. Their faces are very close, Oliver's hand is on her cheek, and his other arm is wrapped around her waist. She has the palm of her hand pressed flat against his chest, and her other hand rests against his shoulder.
Tommy lets the door slam shut behind him, and like he's broken a sacred moment, the two of them fly apart. From what he can tell, she's the one who moved first.
As he steps further into the old Queen factory, Tommy sees the girl step behind Oliver and partially out of his view.
Oliver's never been fond of the shy ones.
But that was before. Tommy's not really sure about the Oliver of now.
Suddenly, he finds himself stamping down a wave of uneasiness. He's…intruding on something. Something he doesn't quite understand.
But then Oliver is striding towards Tommy with a smile on his face, and Tommy's forgetting why he was uneasy in the first place.
Oliver's hug is quick and familiar, and the second he steps away he turns to his companion. "Tommy Merlyn, this is Felicity Smoak; Felicity Smoak, meet my friend Tommy Merlyn."
The way Felicity glances at Oliver—almost as if to ask his permission before shaking Tommy's hand—doesn't escape his notice.
Likewise, he also observes how as soon as their handshake is over, she reaches for Oliver's hand anxiously, and he lets her take it.
Okay. So she's probably not a quick lay, but Oliver's only been back in the land of the living for a week. How he's managed to find time to build what clearly looks like a relationship with this woman is beyond Tommy's understanding.
"How did you two meet?" he asks Oliver. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Felicity bite her lip.
"At my welcome home party, actually," Oliver says without flinching, blinking, or hesitating.
When the hell did Oliver Queen learn how to lie to him? Apart from a few minutes of conversation with Laurel, Tommy kept a very close eye on Oliver during the whole night. He would have remembered seeing him with Felicity.
Tommy makes a mental note to double check the guest list and then the list of employees working the venue. And then check again.
That's something to do later, though. Might as well get to the reason they're all here. Tommy moves past Oliver and Felicity to get a better view of the space.
"What do you think?" Oliver asks. "Great spot for a nightclub or what?"
He starts to explain his tentative plans for the building—the office, the bar, tables, the dance floor—and Tommy's suddenly struck by the thought that this is an Oliver who is wholly unfamiliar to him.
"Man, are you sure you wanna do this? It's not like you really have any experience in running a…well, running anything."
For a second, a flash of hurt spreads across Oliver's face, and Tommy wishes he could take the words back. He's totally misjudged the amount of emotional investment Oliver has in this idea. It's not the first time he's experienced this weird disconnect between the Oliver he once knew and the Oliver that came back, but feels like it stings just a little more.
Tommy might not know him, but that doesn't lessen the fact that he wants to know him. He wants to know every version of Oliver Queen.
But first he needs to make amends.
"How about tomorrow night we go and scope out the competition. There's a new club opening downtown. It's called Poison. Max Fuller owns it.
"Max Fuller?" Oliver says, a little skeptically.
Oliver glances at Felicity quickly, before saying, "I'm not sure that's a good idea. I slept with his fiancée."
"Yeah," Tommy acknowledges, not missing the way Felicity tenses or the silent communication that seems to pass between the two of them when Oliver turns to look at her. "Before the wedding."
Oliver winces. "It was at the rehearsal dinner."
"The rehearsal dinner is technically before the wedding," Tommy says. "And besides, who stays mad at a castaway."
Tommy's phone buzzes, and he glances down at it.
Oliver doesn't know about them yet, and Tommy would rather him not find out like this, so he flashes Oliver and Felicity a grin.
"I've got to roll," he says. "Tomorrow night, Poison. You should come too, Felicity."
It's not an afterthought. This entire situation is confusing as hell, and as much as he wouldn't care if he never laid eyes on Felicity Smoak again, he needs to figure out what's going on here. None of this is sitting right. Oliver just got back from five years of hell. No way is Tommy letting some flighty gold-digger screw with his best friend's heart. Not when he's…
Tommy mulls that word over in his mind for a little bit, then lets it settle in. That's exactly it. Oliver is vulnerable right now, whether or not he realizes it.
For a brief moment, he considers the possibility that the club was Felicity's idea, but that doesn't feel right. She'd been quiet through the whole meeting. She'd actually seemed incredibly tense the entire time. Maybe worried that he'd sense something was off with her? If that was the case, then she was right to be worried.
Tommy might not be sure exactly what it is, but something isn't right here.
And he's not resting until he figures out exactly what it is.
The club is loud. Felicity sticks close to Oliver's side as they weave through a throng of people. She's no stranger to being shown off. When Masters did let her out of her bottle, out of their chambers, out into the world, it was always so she could be seen as one of their possessions.
She wonders if that's how Tommy sees her: as Oliver's plaything. Something pretty and useful but ultimately nothing more. He looks at her in a way she's unaccustomed to people looking at her.
Men who are not her Masters look at her with want, with envy, with desire.
They don't look at her with confusion. They don't look at her with distrust.
But that is how Tommy Merlyn looks at her. Felicity can't decide quite how she feels about that. It's new, and the newness of it is almost refreshing, if not for the fact that Oliver really wants the two of them to get along. His distrust of her is not something that is going to lead to them getting along.
When they reach the bar, Tommy immediately approaches a brunette woman in a black dress who is standing with her back to them. Oliver's hold on Felicity tightens as he pulls her back slightly, stopping her from moving any closer to them. She already feels unsteady on her feet, but the pressure of Oliver's hand on the small of her back helps her keep her balance.
"Oh, wow," Tommy says, mirth in his voice. "Doesn't you going out and having fun violate some kind of law, you know, like the ones that are carved on a stone tablet?"
The woman spins, curls swishing around her shoulders. "That's cute, Tommy."
He grins at her. "Thanks."
Her eyes linger on Felicity for a few seconds before she glances between the two men. "I can see you're up to your old hunting patterns."
"I'm just seeing what passes for fun in Starling City after five years." Oliver's tone is deceptively even. Felicity shifts even closer to him.
He wants to be anywhere but right here.
"Ah," the brunette says. "Well, I'm sure you'll find that it just hasn't been the same without you."
She turns to Felicity. "Laurel Lance," she says, holding out her hand for Felicity to shake. "I don't believe we've had the pleasure."
"Felicity." She swallows, and remembering that last names are important now, she adds, "Smoak."
It doesn't escape her notice that this is Oliver's Laurel. This is the Laurel his heart wants. That his heart wanted—she mentally amends, because in the past few days that want has faded and reoriented itself in another direction.
Oliver wants someone to spend his days with. He wants a partner in his life. He wants to not be alone again. The person he wants that with just isn't Laurel anymore.
And whether that's Oliver or the curse is something Felicity doesn't know, but the fleeting burst of hope that fills her chest is something Felicity does recognize as extremely dangerous.
It also doesn't escape her notice that Laurel doesn't hold any romantic feelings toward Oliver. Felicity would notice if she did. The curse would ensure it. Jealousy and envy would eat her alive.
Instead, there's just nothing.
Part of her wonders, if maybe it's good that Oliver's attention is elsewhere. Another part of her is aware that maybe it's also bad, because Felicity can't be that person for him. She can't be. It will destroy them both. She's watched it happen too many times with too many Masters.
"How did you two meet?" Laurel asks, gesturing between Felicity and Oliver.
"My welcome home party," Oliver answers smoothly.
"Funny thing about that," Tommy says, turning to Felicity. "I know that guest list inside and out. You weren't on it."
"Working at the venue," says Oliver quickly. "That's why she wasn't on the list."
Tommy was clearly not prepared for that answer, because he opens his mouth to say something, but he's stopped by Thea Queen literally crashing into Oliver. Felicity finds herself stepping back quickly, away from the security of Oliver's arms and closer to Tommy.
"Big Brother," Thea slurs, holding onto Oliver's shoulder to steady herself. "Oh. I am so wasted right now, there is — there is two of you."
Oliver's face is stone cold. "I thought you were grounded."
"I am," Thea answers tersely. "And thank you—thank you for that, by the way."
"You're done for the night," Oliver says, and he starts to lead her away.
Felicity stays still, not sure if she should wait with Tommy and Laurel or follow Oliver and Thea.
Tommy's waved over a bartender and is ordering a drink, while Laurel looks more than a little curious about the argument that's broken out between Oliver and Thea, which leaves Felicity standing alone off to the side.
"You're one to talk," she can hear Thea say. "How much do you know about your own so-called friends over here? How well do you even know the girl you're screwing?"
"Leave her out of this," Oliver says, at the same time Tommy interjects, "Oh, Thea, maybe you should—"
Felicity is distracted from the rest of their conversation by a man putting a hand on her shoulder. She jumps.
"Sorry," he says with a smile that tells her he is anything but sorry. "You're just far too pretty to be here alone; let me buy you a drink."
His hand is still on her shoulder, grazing against her bare skin and she doesn't want his touch there. A flash of nausea hits, heavy in her stomach.
This man wants her.
This man wants her magic.
And he doesn't even know it, but he's drawn to her. He craves her, craves her bottle, craves her curse, and he's completely unaware that's what it is.
"Leave me alone," Felicity says.
She could do any number of things to dissuade him. She could blink and the server behind him could dump their tray of drinks over his head; she could make him slip and lose his footing for no reason; or cause his pants to fall down by blinking his belt away.
All those things involve causing a scene, and there's already one happening a few feet to her left. She pulls away from him, shooting a futile glance at Oliver, but he's distracted with Thea and Tommy. The stranger reaches for her again, and she shudders when he grips her arm tightly.
"Take your hands off of me," Thea yells. "You're not my father, and you're barely my brother."
Thea stomps off, and Oliver turns to Felicity.
She feels the moment he sees the stranger's hands on her.
"Hey," the man says, "Don't run away from me."
And before Felicity can quite literally blink, Oliver is right there, prying the man's hand off of her and using his grip on his wrist to twist the stranger's arm behind his back.
"You don't touch her," he growls.
That's the moment security steps in. Tommy says Oliver's name, and he lets the stranger go with a harsh shove.
"Well, well, look at this," the stranger says, pulling his arm away when Oliver slowly lets him go. Haughtily, he adjusts his jacket and tie, smoothing out fresh wrinkles. "Oliver Queen."
"Max Fuller." Oliver says. "How you been?
"Happy you drowned," Max answers, and Felicity thinks it's too bad she didn't upend a tray of drinks over his head.
Suddenly, security is whisking Oliver away. Felicity tries to follow them, but Tommy holds up a hand. "I got this," he says before he runs after them.
Glancing at Laurel, Felicity asks, "Does he have this?"
Laurel rolls her eyes. "Hell no."
They both hesitate for just a second before they rush after Tommy. They burst into the room just as the fight breaks out. Laurel doesn't even pause before she goes after Max, taking him down easily while Felicity quickly blinks twice to cause Oliver and Tommy to easily evade the blows of the men fighting them.
"So is this over, Max?" Laurel asks. "Or are you gonna have your boys pound on me next?"
Max looks mortified as he stands to his feet. He points at all of them. "You four consider yourselves banned for life. Get the hell out of my place!"
"Your club sucks anyway," Tommy yells after him.
Every fiber in Felicity's body wants to throw herself into Oliver's arms—to make sure he's okay, to apologize for not protecting him better, to resettle herself after that man put his hands on her—but she holds herself back while Oliver and Laurel briefly talk.
"Tommy and I don't need your blessing," Laurel tells Oliver. "And I don't need your forgiveness."
Then, she turns to Felicity. "You okay?"
"Good." Laurel tips her head toward Oliver. "Watch yourself around that one. I'm sure you think you know what you're getting into, but chances are, you don't."
"I think I know him pretty well," Felicity says, and Laurel almost smiles.
"For your sake," Laurel says. "I hope you're right."
Outside the club, Oliver holds onto Felicity's hand as he helps her into the car. He still feels anxious, like he wants to crawl out of his own skin. He wants to punch something—someone—or work himself to exhaustion, anything to get this burning anger and frustration and helplessness out from inside him.
But Felicity has barely said a word to him, and that's probably the worst part of it all. He's not sure what exactly happened in the club that upset her, but something did and it's clearly still bothering her.
He wonders for a moment if it was the same thing in the hallway after breakfast the other day, the thing she refused to explain.
"Are you okay?" he asks finally, once he's settled next to her, the partition between them and their driver is up, and the car is moving. "He didn't hurt you, right?"
She shakes her head solemnly. "Not yet."
"Not yet?" Oliver asks. "What does that mean?"
"He wanted me—and not like the way you're thinking. He wanted my power, the bottle's power."
That's absurd. "How could he possibly know you were a genie?"
"He didn't," Felicity says. "He probably didn't even understand what was happening. The bottle still draws people to itself, to me, like magnets. The curse always wants me to have a Master." She pauses for a moment, then lowers her voice to a whisper when she asks, "How is it you think that you found me? Chance? Coincidence? Fate?"
Oliver doesn't know how to reply to that. He always assumed that's what it was. He never once considered that he was drawn to her, pulled to her, lead to her by some otherworldly force.
He never thought the bottle could have intentionally singled him out. That it could have chosen him. At the same time, he remembers the moment he saw it glimmering in the sand, how he was so curious about what it was and how it ended up there.
The thought that Max would want to take Felicity away without even knowing why, without even knowing her—like she's just a thing to be possessed by them, by her Masters—is simultaneously rage-inducing and terrifying.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I should have been paying closer attention to you."
As if she knows where his train of thought is taking him, Felicity says, "He can't take me, Oliver. He can't take me from you. Not without opening the bottle. You don't have to worry. He'll more than likely forget about me, pass me off as just a girl who rejected him in a bar."
"I'm sure that happens to him a lot," Oliver says, and it seems to lighten the mood a little because Felicity actually smiles for a heartbeat.
"He would have been one of the bad ones," she says. "I could tell."
Oliver can't quite disagree with her there. It's easy to imagine Max Fuller's strong ambitions becoming incredibly threatening to Felicity under the curse's influence.
He doesn't know what to say, so he takes Felicity's hand instead. At his touch, she turns toward him.
"Are you okay?" she asks.
Thea hates him. She's in pain, she's spiraling, and he doesn't know how to help her. Tommy and Laurel are sleeping together, which is more or less something he's been assuming since his return. He has his own genie, and his relationship with her is either going to end with him tangled up in a genie curse he doesn't understand or with her being forcibly taken from him.
Or her freedom. Oliver would really like for this particular part of his life to end with Felicity being free.
For now, Felicity isn't pressing him for an answer to her question. Instead, she scoots closer to him and rests her head on his shoulder.
"Can we go home?" she asks.
"Yes," Oliver says, glancing down at her hand in his. "We can go home."
Felicity hasn't slept well in over six hundred years.
During the first two hundred years of her magical servitude, her insomnia had been a combination of her circumstances and her forced attachment to a string of Masters who cared little about her personal comfort. When she did have time to sleep, the circumstances and stress of her situation as a personal genie prevented it. Her bottle was small and cramped, but to be out of her bottle was to be bent and conformed to her Master's every whim.
The middle hundred years were a back-and-forth of bad Masters and only slightly bad Masters, with the occasional even worse Master sprinkled in for variety. Sleep was easy to find in those overworked years. True rest was another story.
She hasn't been able to rest in centuries.
Oliver, for all his faults and hurts and scars, treats her with more dignity and kindness than any Master she's ever had before. Even the kinder ones. Even the ones who promised to set her free, who tried to win her over with flattery and sweet kisses and promises of liberation.
She's often thought that those who treated her with kindness actually hurt her more. Because it always dissipated. It always melted into greed and lust and wretchedness. Always.
There were things she was asked to do, things she was ordered and forced to do, that she doesn't want to think about. Doesn't want to dream about. Eventually, Masters figured out that she was good for more than fulfilling a few easy wishes. Eventually, they used her in ways she'd rather not reflect upon. Those moments might remain buried during the day, but they creep upon her at night. They torment her mind and chase away any peace.
They do not grant her sleep.
But Oliver doesn't sleep either.
He tries; they both do. He settles down on his bed and folds his arms back behind his head. Felicity sits cross-legged on the mattress next to him and stares up at the ceiling, like if he can see something interesting up there, maybe she can too.
After minutes and minutes of quiet, after they've tried to find comfort in blissful slumber, Oliver speaks.
They should have run out of conversation nights ago, but somehow it's still there, easy and steady.
Sometimes she tells him about places she's been. She's seen so much of the world—so much of it has been ugly, but Felicity's very existence is ugly, and she's grown accustomed to hiding the repulsiveness of it with an easy smile and bright colors.
Sometimes he talks about his life before the island, but Felicity feels the shallowness of it, and she knows he does too. He's not that person anymore. He spent five years in hell before her found her—found her bottle, really—and she's the reason he's back home. No other rescue was coming.
And considering Felicity's last half-century was spent in that bottle on that beach, well, the world has changed a lot for both of them.
"Do they hurt you?" Oliver asks, running his fingers over the silver bracelets—shackles—around each wrist.
"Yes," she answers. "Sometimes."
"They tighten," she answers.
"When?" he asks softly. She gives him a look, and he continues, "When do they tighten? Do you notice?"
She stays quiet, because while the answer is something she has figured out long ago, it's also something she has never, ever told another human.
"Felicity," Oliver says, "Tell me."
It's not an order. She tells him anyway.
"When my Master wishes for something, the bonds tighten around my wrists."
Oliver threads his fingers through hers. "Do you know why?"
"Genie magic is...legislated," Felicity tells him. "There is an order to it. It obeys laws, just specific ones. I wasn't born a genie. I was cursed. This—" she gestures to the metal on her wrist—"Is a curse. It's not supposed to be happy."
"Who cursed you?"
Carefully, she sidesteps that question by repeating information she's sure she's already told him. "Curses obey two things: the laws of magic and the stipulations of the curse. Genie curses are forever. I'm cursed with immortality and with magic, but I can only access that magic through the bottle that I'm tethered to. The bottle that I am trapped in decides who my Master is. Each wish someone makes me grant only serves to strengthen that bond."
"What happens if I don't wish for anything?"
"I don't know," Felicity says. "No one's ever not wished for anything before. Usually people have genies and they wish for everything."
"There was only one thing I wanted, Felicity." That this was to go home remains unspoken, and she hates that even she wasn't able to grant him that. She gave him the literal meaning of his wish, but not the emotional one, and that saddens her. She wishes she knew how to help him return home when every part of him still thinks its back on an island.
"Oliver," she says sadly, and she can't stop the way she reaches for him, can't stop her fingers from caressing his cheek. He closes his eyes at her touch. "You're playing at nobility, but that's not going to last. Soon enough, something is going to happen and you're going to need me to do something for you."
"What if I don't?"
"Feli—" he starts, but she presses her fingers to his lips.
"Listen to me," she says, trying to ignore the thrill that shoots through her body. "I am cursed, but so are you. The magic needs you to wish. It needs to keep me bound. This is powerful, powerful stuff you are dealing with. No human before has been strong enough to resist it. All of them cave. All of them give in. You're not going to be any different."
He takes her hand to remove it from his mouth. "What if I am?"
"You won't be," she says sadly, turning away from him. "No one ever is."
"Look at me," he says, sitting up. Again, it's not an order and she doesn't have to, but she does. "I want you to be free, Felicity."
"I don't even remember what freedom is anymore, Oliver."
His hand rests on her shoulder, thumb rubbing back and forth against her skin. "Let me help you fix that."
It's hopeless, she wants to tell him. There is no way to help her.
But she's the one who's helpless when Oliver cups her face with his hands and draws her close. The kiss, when it happens, is soft and sweet. He doesn't push, he doesn't press for anything more than just that kiss, but she knows it something that he wants, knows it in that intimate way she knows all his wants, all his needs, all his deepest desires. She knows him inside and out because she is supposed to be every one of those things. She is the thing he wants and the thing he needs and the thing he desires above all else. It is her purpose, her function.
This is not the first time one of her Masters has kissed her, but it is the first time Felicity has wanted her Master's kiss.
And if that isn't a sign of impending catastrophe, she doesn't know what is.